New York – At a Ministerial-level event on the side of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting in New York today, co-hosted by the Netherlands, Germany, and the US, the UN announced that the organisation has received a total of USD 75 million in pledges from governments, which is the amount needed to launch the operation to salvage the FSO Safer.
The operation consists of getting the 1.14 million barrels (over 140,000 tonnes) of oil onboard transferred to another tanker to make the Safer secure and prevent a major humanitarian and environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea region.
Commenting on the announcement, Paul Horsman, Greenpeace International Project Lead, said: “Pledges are good, cash is better. It is a relief to know that the pledges governments made can cover the full amount needed to salvage the Safer, but the operations in the Red Sea cannot start unless those pledges are turned into real money, so the UN can get on with the plan.
While finally receiving sufficient financial support to ensure this environmental and humanitarian catastrophe can be averted, we should not forget that governments’ money is people’s money, and the reality is that once again we, the people, are being asked to pay for the oil industry’s mess. ‘Big oil’ has announced record profits in the first two quarters of this year, profits that dwarf the total amount that is needed to make the Safer secure. Yet none of these companies has provided any funding to enable the UN to enact the salvage plan that had been negotiated earlier this year. ”
The amount needed to salvage the Safer is a drop in the ocean compared to oil companies’ profits, and to the costs associated with responding to an oil spill. Costs for the responsefollowing the Exxon Valdez oil spill (March 1989) totalled USD 7 billion, and the costs of a response to a major oil spill from the Safer is estimated at USD 20 billion, according to the UN.
Governments must now turn their pledges into cash as a matter of urgency, to enable the transfer of the oil from the FSO Safer to another tanker before the end of October when weather and current conditions worsen, increasing the risks of a full blown environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.
Note to Editors
Paul Horsman, Project Lead, Safer Response Team, Greenpeace International, [email protected], +44 7835 937639
Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)
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